OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: The Aftermath

We like to think in linear prose; that is why, when E. E. Cummings showered the literary world with typographical disarray, a collective groan of discomfort visibly shook the foundations of the art form.

In daily life, it is the capacity of seeing a beginning, continuum and conclusion to a segment of a bifurcated visual horizon, which makes for sanity.  Closure and a sense of termination allows for satisfaction of an accomplished deed.  To be required to maintain a project, a task, an obligation, etc., is to engage in an eternal hell of unendurable agony; but that is, in the end, what must be done for most things, which is precisely why life is a challenge of inestimable proportions.

Federal Disability Retirement is no different; once obtained, one would like to think that closure has been accomplished, and that life is nothing more than forward-looking deeds to be reached like ski slopes allowing only for downward spirals of travel, never needing to look back.  But maintenance of effort is always a requirement; making sure that one is preserving the rights which one has fought so hard to gain, is a daily task, a present obligation, and a necessity of life in Federal Disability Retirement law, as in other sectors of life.

Whether to recognize the earned income cap for Federal Disability Retirement annuitants while still under a certain age, or making sure to be able to re-certify one’s ongoing medical condition and disability — these are never tremendously onerous tasks, but ones which can only be satisfied if one is fully aware of the laws which govern them.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits by the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is the first step in securing one’s future; the aftermath is the second and many subsequent steps, in ensuring the viability of that which one fought for in the first place, lest history should be repeated and goblins be allowed a resting place where none should be.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal & Federal Disability Retirement Attorney: VERAs

With spring comes the rumors of love, furtive dalliances, clandestine consummation and intrepid interludes; as well as the potential for Voluntary Early Retirement Authority for Federal and Postal employees.  What the latter (known under the acronym of VERA) has to do with the multiple listings of the former (rumors of love, furtive dalliances, etc.) is anyone’s guess; perhaps there is no connection at all or, more likely, the cognitive comparisons we make have to do with offers of change, adventure, and a need to evaluate the impact of all of the above upon the security of one’s future.

The devil, as in all things, is in the details.  Whether a VERA is accepted or not should be based upon the incentivized offer; and it is often the short term gain (a large enough sum of cash “up front” in order to make it attractive), like the adrenaline-flowing excitement propelled by a romantic interlude, which compels the Federal and Postal worker to accept the VERA.

Be not fooled; the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Worker is proposing a VERA not out of the kindness of their abundant hearts; rather, it is to streamline, strip and effectively make skeletal the overburdened bureaucracy of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service.  But the question, as applicable to all VERAs (as well as to romantic dalliances) is, Is it good for your future?

If the Federal or Postal worker must accept a VERA, the underlying reason and rationale is often because he or she can no longer continue in the job anyway; and, to make the point ever more poignant, that foundational reason for an inability to continue often involves a medical condition.  That being the case, it would be wise to evaluate and compare the short-term gain potentially attained through a VERA, as opposed to a long-term security of purposes accessed through filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Both a VERA and a Federal Disability Retirement application must be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Both are ways to discontinue the present set of circumstances the Federal and Postal employee finds him/herself in.  The VERA, however, is a plan of self-indulgent action proposed for the benefit of the Federal agency and the U.S. Postal Service; Federal Disability Retirement is a course of determination based upon the best-interests of one’s health and well-being.  And, like clandestine romances engaged in behind the locked doors of distant roadside motels, the VERA may merely be a response to a mid-life crisis leading to an emptiness in one’s soul once the excitement has passed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Medical Retirement: Continuation of the Offset Issue

As noted previously, the issue of whether or not OPM needs to recalculate one’s FERS Disability Retirement annuity upon losing one’s SSDI benefits should now be resolved.  

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has been arguing for years, if not decades, that despite losing SSDI payments because the recipient has engaged in substantial gainful activity, that no recalculation is in order because the annuitant is still technically “entitled” to the benefits.  

The argument which the undersigned writer made before a 3-Judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, however, is the following:  How can one “offset” something with nothing?  As King Lear said to his daughter Cordelia when she refused to shower him with flowery praises of love, “Nothing comes from nothing”.  

Whatever word-games one may engage in, one cannot offset an amount of zero against another amount.  Further, since the FERS (and CSRS) Disability Retirement annuitant is allowed to make up to 80% of what one’s former position pays, it made absolutely no sense to penalize the individual who was receiving SSDI but loses it for making too much money, to not place him/her in the same position as one who never received SSDI.  

Common sense seems to have prevailed.  

The security of knowing that, in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Courts will actually reverse a nonsensical position of a government agency, is indeed something to smile about.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Early Retirement for Disabled Federal Workers: Collateral Disability Determinations

The key to effectively using collateral sources of disability determinations in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is to tailor its relevance in each individual circumstance.  Thus, for example, because the focus upon percentages of disability, or the issue of causal connection to the workplace, is a focal point of importance in an OWCP/Department of Labor case, but not in cases of Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, such issues should be left alone.  However, the fact that there may be an “independent medical examination” by a Second-Opinion doctor, or a referee doctor in a Worker’s Comp case, can be used to one’s advantage.  

Often, a person who has been under the agonizing scrutiny and torture of the Worker’s Comp process will miss the point, and complain that the OWCP-appointed doctor “didn’t even exam me for 2 minutes”, or “didn’t listen to a thing I said,” but all the while missing the key ingredients in the doctor’s report:  (1) that the doctor can be effectively characterized as “independent” — not from an OWCP standpoint, but certainly from a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement standpoint, because that particular doctor has no self-interest from OPM’s viewpoint, and (2) if the doctor’s opinion is that, while the causal connection (for example) may not have been established, does he nevertheless express an opinion that the Federal or Postal employee is unable to return to perform the essential functions of his or her job?  Often, the emotional uproar in an OWCP case, or in other similar cases (SSDI & Veteran’s Department disability determinations) causes the Federal or Postal employee to miss the primary point of the process:  to use the tools effectively in getting a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire